A SINGAPOREAN who smuggled 12 birds from Vietnam by hiding them in PVC tubes was jailed for three months yesterday.
Herman Rahmat, 38, who is unemployed, admitted to bringing in nine white-rumped shama, two red-whiskered bulbul and a magpie robin without a licence, and committing animal cruelty on Nov 2 last year.
All the birds were found alive, but eight of them died within three days from cranial trauma with accompanying haemorrhage, swelling and dehydration.
The court heard that Herman left Singapore for Ho Chi Minh City on Oct 31 to smuggle the birds back here. He had two check-in bags and 21 plastic tubes of different shapes and sizes.
He bought three birds on arrival and nine more the next day, paying a total of US$1,520 (S$2,064). The birds were delivered to his hotel room on Nov 2. He hid them in the PVC tubes, which had perforated holes, before placing them into his luggage.
He flew back to Singapore that evening. At Terminal 3 in Changi Airport, the 12 birds were found in one of his bags.
Herman admitted that he smuggled the birds due to financial difficulties. He knew that they were transported in a manner which caused them unnecessary pain and suffering.
Arguing for a jail sentence to be imposed, Agri-Food and Veterinary Authority prosecutor Yap Teck Chuan said AVA recognises that the illegal import of wild-caught birds could introduce bird flu into Singapore.
The manner in which the birds were conveyed was also cruel as they could hardly move in the constricted cylindrical tubes, he said.
Pleading for leniency, Herman said in mitigation he needed the money as his mother had a stroke. He said he intended to sell the birds for profit.
He could have been fined up to $10,000 and/or jailed for up to 12 months on each charge.
Meanwhile, AVA said in a statement that a 38-year-old man who imported a bearded dragon and an iguana from Malaysia without a licence last month was issued a composition fine of $5,000 yesterday. The reptiles, found in the spare tyre compartment of his car, have been confiscated.
This article was first published on April 9, 2015.
Get a copy of The Straits Times or go to straitstimes.com for more stories.